Art Cooking: Bone Meal | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

NARRATOR: Throughout
history, food has served as subject matter,
inspiration, and, of course, sustenance for artists. Food has also been the art
on a number of occasions. Today, we’re going to recreate
a highly original meal that sprang from the mind of
a highly original artist. And it even comes with
a souvenir necklace. Our meal in question
happened in 1971 at FOOD Restaurant at the corner
of Prince and Wooster Streets in New York City’s
Soho neighborhood. This artist-run
restaurant was founded by Caroline Goodden, Tina
Girouard, Suzanne Harris, Rachel Lew, and this guy,
Gordon Matta-Clark, who I will tell you more about later. Their menu changed
every day based on what was fresh and available
and what their rotating cast of contributors wanted to make. Often, soups and gumbo
and fresh-baked bread prepared in their open kitchen,
a novel idea at the time. On Sunday nights, artists were
invited to be guest chefs. And the most legendary
of these meals was offered by Matta-Clark. For $4.00, you could enjoy the
Bone Meal comprised of oxtail soup, a green salad, marrow
bones, stuffed bones, frog legs provencale, and pot
roast bones with sliced peaches and coffee or tea for dessert. This one’s going to
be a doozy, guys, so I’ve called in some
assistance in the form of sound artist Stuart
Hyatt who is going to help me deal
with what’s going to be a rather overwhelming
number of dishes and, of course, bones. We don’t have the
original recipes so we’re using the most epic
cookbook of all, the internet, to pull from a
variety of sources. For the oxtail soup, we’re using
Jamie Oliver’s Insanely Good Oxtail Stew recipe, which
calls for five to six pounds of oxtail, cut into
about two-inch chunks. You can ask a butcher
to do this for you. We’ve pre-heated a roasting
pan in a 425 degree oven and then carefully
add the oxtail to it, glugging over some olive oil,
seasoning with salt and pepper, and then scooting it around a
little before putting it back in the hot oven for
about 20 minutes. While that’s in there,
we’re going to prep our veg, starting with two leeks. Yours don’t have to be
this large unless you want to make a lot of dumb jokes. But you’re going to
trim them and cut them in half lengthwise. Leeks are always full of
dirt, so we give these an extra wash on the
side before chopping them into about one-inch segments. We’re also going to cut up four
to five carrots and four stalks of celery in a similar manner. And while we’re
cutting, we’re going to talk about Gordon
Matta-Clark’s cuttings because they’re much more
impressive than ours. Gordon Matta-Clark was the child
of American artist Anne Clark and Chilean surrealist
Roberto Matta. He studied architecture
at Cornell, but his interest
skewed much more into dismantling ideas
about architecture as well as actually
dismantling architecture. During the second
summer FOOD was open, he redesigned the space by
making cuttings into the walls. And he displayed
some of the elements he extracted that fall at the
alternative exhibition space 112 Greene Street that he
co-founded with Jeffrey Lew. From there, he began making
bigger and more ambitious cuts. He took a house slated for
demolition in New Jersey and literally split
the thing in two, making a huge cut
down the middle and selectively removing
pieces of the foundation to then jack it apart. He cut into the side of Pier 52
on the west side of Manhattan. He cut through two
17th century buildings in Paris slated for demolition
near the Centre Pompidou, which was then under construction,
creating a conical void that opened up views into the
structures from the street. Part sculpture, part
performance, part archeology, Matta-Clark’s
cuttings took dead, forgotten spaces and made
them alive and poetic, if only for a moment,
revealing the uneasy divides between public and
private and the dark side of urban development. His work is
mind-blowingly amazing. And if you don’t agree with me,
we can just never be friends. After all that, what seemed like
an enormous amount of cutting is totally doable. And also, chopping
up a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
and fresh thyme doesn’t seem so
difficult either. Strip the leaves from the
stems as best you can. Then give those a rough chop. Get out a bay leaf,
and set these aside. We’re also going to prep for
our roasted marrow bones, working from Fergus
Henderson’s recipe published in “The New York Times.” For this, we’re going to
wash and prep some parsley because when you’re
serving bones for dinner, you must distract with a
considerable amount of garnish. Remove some of the
stalks but not so many that you seem like
a crazy person. Give some a rough chop and some
more a fine chop for use later. We’ll also need two shallots,
which we’ll thinly slice. We’re also going to get some
garlic ready for later on. And we might as well have
a side-by-side garlic prep competition. I have a more strategic,
precise method, while Stuart’s I’d describe as
a little more caveman, Cookie Monster. During this display
of teamwork, I’ll note that FOOD
Restaurant was truly a communal effort, the
co-operative energy and labor of dancers, musicians,
and artists of many stripes, including many members of
the Philip Glass ensemble. Co-founder Caroline Goodden
was an original member of the Trisha
Brown Dance Company and said of FOOD, “I
wanted to have a place to eat, with food that
I liked, that was open when I needed it to be. And I wanted to
create a workplace for artists that had no
restrictions on how many hours a day or days a week the artist
worked so that they could be free to suddenly drop out as
needed to produce their show and still have a job
when they were through.” OK, you’ll see that each
of our garlic methods are equally effective. But if you’re still
feeling competitive, you can always decide
the winner by thumb war. And let’s also prep some lemon
juice, taking four lemons, rolling them to
help soften them up. And we’re using a
reamer to juice them. Then pour through a sieve to
remove the seeds and pulp. And then when some
mysteriously sneak through, repeat the process. For our stuffed
marrow bones, we’re riffing off of Martha
Stewart’s recipe. And while Martha would only
use fresh wild mushrooms hand-selected by her
on-staff forager, we’re going to rehydrate a
variety of dried mushrooms, including porcinis
and chanterelles, by submerging them in
hot water and letting them sit for a while. And while the recipe
doesn’t call for it, Stuart went renegade
and is chopping some diced onion for what will
be the stuffing for the marrow bones. And with that, it’s time
for the all-important step of standing back and admiring
all of your prep work. Ah, isn’t it lovely? Our 20 minutes has passed,
and we pulled out the oxtail after it started to turn golden. We’ll go over to the stovetop
to make it into a stew. And we’ll heat up a
large ovenproof dish, add a tablespoon or so
of olive oil, and in go our carrots,
leeks, and celery. We then add in the rosemary
and thyme, the bay leaf, and give it a stir, and let
it cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Over on the right, Stuart is
making some clarified butter for our frog legs– a
process through which you melt unsalted
butter over low heat to separate the milk proteins
that start to gather on top. But back to the oxtails, we’re
adding two heaping tablespoons of flour, flour cloves,
and give it a good stir. To that we add a hefty cup
of red wine, a 28-ounce can of good plum tomatoes, stir,
stir, and add our oxtails into the mix. Then, fill to cover with either
boiling water or beef stock. We’re using beef stock
and bring to a boil. Over in the butter
corner, Stuart spoons off some
of the milk solids that have congregated on top
and maintains it at a simmer. When the oxtails are at a boil,
cover them up and send them into a 325 degree oven
and let them hang out in there for five hours,
stirring every once in a while. I know what you’re thinking
about this butter– why are we going
to so much trouble to clarify it when it’s
perfectly delicious as is. Two reasons– Matta-Clark
was fascinated by the science of food. Before the restaurant, he
would experiment in his studio by brewing vats of water and
agar, the gelatinous stuff from seaweed, mixing in
sugar, yeast, salt, oils, dairy products, and
all sorts of stuff. He spread it into trays and let
it fester and dry into sheets. He called these works
“Incendiary Wafers” after one unexpectedly exploded. He also fried photographs
of Christmas trees along with sheets of
gold leaf and sent them to friends as gifts. The second reason
we’re clarifying butter is because once you
spoon off the proteins and boil off the water
contained in the butter, and after you pour
everything but the last bit through some cheese cloth,
your butter has a higher smoke point for frying those frog legs
and also a longer shelf life. In Indian cooking,
this is called ghee, and you can buy it off the
shelf in many grocery stores. All right, now is probably
when you want to take a break and have a sandwich while
the oxtails are hanging out in the oven, so I’ll tell you a
little more history while we’re waiting. FOOD was part of an
ecosystem of experimental art in 1970s lower
Manhattan, made possible by the cheap rents of a Soho
that was a far cry from what it is today. Along with the exhibition
space 112 Greene Street, “Avalanche” magazine
was founded in 1968 and documented the
work and writings of this new generation
of artists, whose work was largely ephemeral. FOOD, which placed regular
ads in “Avalanche,” became a meeting
site and hub for all of the artistic
activity happening in the area at the time. And while it was never
a profitable business, it importantly
employed and supported a huge number of artists. OK, guys, we’re about an hour
and a half from mealtime, and we’re now going to
assemble the parsley salad that will go on top of our
roasted marrow bones. Into a bowl goes a cup of
roughly chopped parsley, sliced shallots, and
2 teaspoons of capers. Then take three tablespoons
of your lemon juice, add two tablespoons or so
of olive oil, and whisk. Set that aside and have it ready
to mix with the parsley salad right before serving. For our frog legs
provencale, we’re using a recipe from
“Saveur” magazine, that’s a version of the dish served
at the French restaurant La Grenouille in New York. La Grenouille, perhaps
you know, means frog, and you’re going to need
a good number of them to make this dish for a crowd. You can order them
from a butcher or find them in the frozen
section of some markets. Or, you could just put out a
dish and hope they hop on in. You’ll need to
snip apart the legs and then cover them in milk
and put them in the fridge to soak for about 30 minutes. I think this acts
as a tenderizer, but if it has
another purpose, I’m sure you won’t
hesitate to tell us. It’s back to our
stuffed marrow bones, and our recipe calls for beef
marrow bones split lengthwise. These will go into a
pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. While those are going, we add
some of our clarified butter to two skillets. Into one will go some chopped
onion for the stuffing, and into the other will go two
to three slices of white bread, sliced into cubes
to make croutons. These you’ll stir frequently
until browned on all sides. To the onions you’ll add
the rehydrated mushrooms which you’ve secretly
drained and diced off camera. Then you’re going
to pull the marrow bones from the boiling water and
set to cool for a few moments while you get rid of
the scary bone water and try not to retch. When they’re cool
enough to handle, scoop the marrow into the
onion-mushroom mixture and stir it until it all kind
of melts together and season with salt and pepper. Then you go about the unsavory
task of cleaning up the marrow bones using the knives
that you care least about making more dull, hacking
and pulling away the remaining meat and tendons. Happy Halloween, you guys. Let’s turn to some
smaller, daintier legs and return to our frogs, which
we’ve removed from the milk, drained, and dried
on paper towels. Season these with
salt and pepper and then give them
each a light coating of flour before
arranging them in a dish like they’re a super
sweet Rockettes kick line and sing, (SINGING) “Hello,
my baby, hello, my honey, hello, my ragtime gal.” Now, it’s time to fire the
unstuffed marrow bones. So we’re going to take about
five pounds of center cut beef marrow bones, about
three inches long each, and arrange them on
a foil-covered pan. These will go into a 450
degree oven for 15 minutes or until the marrow
is soft and has begun to separate from the bone. We’re getting really close
now, and the oxtails are done. So we pull them out of the oven
and skim off some of the fat. Don’t worry, there will still
be plenty of fat in this meal. Set that to cool for
a bit, and then we’re set up to do side-by-side
frog leg frying. Heating about six tablespoons
of our clarified butter in each of two skillets until
sizzling, add the frog legs, being careful not
to crowd, and cook, flipping once,
until golden brown. This shouldn’t take more
than four to five minutes. And we overcooked ours, and
they started falling apart. Don’t do this. Cook them in
however many batches it takes not to crowd them. And when you’re done,
transfer them to a platter. You’re also going to
add a handful of parsley to the mushroom marrow mixture
and then toss in the croutons. By this point, your
guests have arrived and are available to help. Now, you’re going to make
a sauce for the frog legs by discarding the old butter and
adding fresh clarified butter to the skillet, adding in a few
cloves of your chopped garlic. And stir constantly
until lightly browned. Over on the left, we’re
filling the marrow bones with the mushroom-crouton
filling, by the way back. Back on the sauce,
turn off the heat, add a tablespoon of
lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Then drizzle this around and
on top of your frog legs. Scatter some parsley and
race it to the table. The roasted marrow
bones are now ready. So we’ve pulled
those from the oven and placed them on serving
dishes for the table. We also combine
our parsley salad with the lemon vinaigrette
we made earlier. Finally, we are ready
to eat, and we’ve decided to do this in a
communal family style, not forgetting a big green
salad and plenty of fresh bread and butter. Now, if all of these
bone-intensive dishes don’t appeal to you, you
can consider some other FOOD dinners, like Matta-Clark’s
meal of live brine shrimp served in hollowed-out eggs. He also proposed a
dinner for sculptors by sculptors where all the
utensils would be hammers, chisels, and screwdrivers. And Mark di Suvero
proposed a dinner that would be served through
the window with a crane. But that never
actually happened. Now, at the original bone meal,
after the plates were cleared, the leftover bones were scrubbed
by musician Richard Peck and then strung
together as necklaces by Robert Rauschenberg’s then
assistant Hisachika Takahashi. They were then returned to
the diners with the idea that they could wear
their leftovers home. For this critical,
final step, we decided to invite a special
guest to our bone meal– jewelry designer Allison Ford– to enjoy the dinner and
also collaborate with us. We could pretend like we took
these bones from our dinner and, poof, magically transformed
them into perfectly clean and dried
jewelry-making material. After we cleared the table
and Allison set us up with a spread of
supplies, we all dove into making
our own necklaces with our lovely bones. The truth is that we tested
these recipes in advance, harvested the bones, and then
spent quite a bit of time cleaning and drying them. There are lots of
ways to clean bones. You can consult Google, and that
will be another fun Halloween surprise. But I think there’s
a reason I couldn’t find any photos of the
original bone necklaces, and my guess is that they were
wet and still had gook in them. Well, our dinner may bear
little in resemblance to the original
Matta-Clark meal. It was a supremely fun and
intense, cooperative effort. I now have a better
understanding of why FOOD Restaurant
only lasted three years with its original
members as they became exhausted with the effort
and moved on to other things. Was it art? For some, yes. It was part of a moment when
art and artists were consciously exiting the traditional space
of the gallery to experiment within the arena of real life. As Caroline Goodden
wrote, “It was a beautiful, nourishing,
vital, stimulating, new concept which was a living, pulsating,
hub of creative energy and piles of fresh parsley. Oh, and we also yielded
some really impressive works of wearable art. The “Art Assignment” is funded
in part by viewers like you through, a
subscription-based platform that allows you to
support creators you like in the form
of a monthly donation. If you’d like to
support the show, check out our page at Special thanks to
our grand master of the arts, Indianapolis
Homes Realty. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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